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Research at St Andrews

Ion Channel Conformation and Oligomerization Assessment by Site-Directed Spin Labeling and Pulsed-EPR

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Mechanosensitive (MS) ion channels are multimeric integral membrane proteins that respond to increased lipid bilayer tension by opening their nonselective pores to release solutes and relieve increased cytoplasmic pressure. These systems undergo major conformational changes during gating and the elucidation of their mechanism requires a deep understanding of the interplay between lipids and proteins. Lipids are responsible for transmitting lateral tension to MS channels and therefore play a key role in obtaining a molecular-detail model for mechanosensation. Site-directed spin labeling combined with electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy is a powerful spectroscopic tool in the study of proteins. The main bottleneck for its use relates to challenges associated with successful isolation of the protein of interest, introduction of paramagnetic labels on desired sites, and access to specialized instrumentation and expertise. The design of sophisticated experiments, which combine a variety of existing EPR methodologies to address a diversity of specific questions, require knowledge of the limitations and strengths, characteristic of each particular EPR method. This chapter is using the MS ion channels as paradigms and focuses on the application of different EPR techniques to ion channels, in order to investigate oligomerization, conformation, and the effect of lipids on their regulation. The methodology we followed, from the initial strategic selection of mutants and sample preparation, including protein purification, spin labeling, reconstitution into lipid mimics to the complete set-up of the pulsed-EPR experiments, is described in detail.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Structure-Function Toolbox for Membrane Transporter and Channels
EditorsChristine Ziegler
ISBN (Print)9780128123539
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2017

Publication series

NameMethods in Enzymology
ISSN (Print)0076-6879

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